Libertarianism: What Everyone Needs to Know

Oxford University Press, 2012

Book Forum
November 8, 2012 12:00PM
Hayek Auditorium
Featuring the author Jason Brennan, Assistant Professor of Ethics, Economics, and Public Policy, Georgetown University; with comments by Aaron Ross Powell, Research Fellow, Cato Institute and Editor, Libertarianism.org; and Tom Merrill, Assistant Professor of Government, American University; moderated by John Samples, Director, Center for Representative Government, Cato Institute.

Historically, Americans have seen libertarians as far outside the mainstream, but as Jason Brennan points out, libertarianism is a quite different — and far richer — system of thought than most suspect. Brennan offers a nuanced portrait of libertarianism, proceeding through a series of questions to illuminate the essential elements of libertarianism and the problems the philosophy addresses, including such topics as the value of liberty, human nature and ethics, economic liberty, civil rights, social justice and the poor, government and democracy, and contemporary politics. As he sheds light on libertarian beliefs, Brennan overturns numerous misconceptions. Libertarianism is not about simple-minded paranoia about government, he writes. Rather, it celebrates the ideal of peaceful cooperation among free and equal people. Brennan argues that libertarians are, in fact, animated by benevolence and a deep concern for the poor.